Sunday, August 23, 2009


I have a lot of respect for my grandmother. She worked as a history teacher when most women living in the Qingdao area (China, same as the beer) were not even educated. She played basketball in high school. She escaped the Communists by dressing in a soldier's uniform and moving to Taiwan. She is intelligent, strong-willed, healthy and disciplined. She's the kind of lady who solves problems and gets things done.

Unfortunately, she started to go blind a few years ago due to glaucoma. It was really difficult for her to learn to relinquish control. It's been difficult for us to see her deteriorate physically and mentally. She lives a few hours away from me, in the same senior citizen center she has lived for several decades, because she knows exactly how many steps it takes to go from one point to another. She still insists on cooking for us.

This weekend was her 90th birthday (in Chinese years). We congregated in her tiny apartment, uprooted her from her schedule, and planned our weekend around restaurants. I haven't eaten this well since... well, since the last time I went home, but I'll save my food descriptions for a different entry.

Since the onset of the glaucoma, my grandma was forced to stop painting and writing calligraphy, two hobbies that she used to enjoy immensely. For her birthday, she wanted to write some characters for us to frame and keep. We helped her line up the words, soak the brush in ink, and place the brush in the correct starting position.

She was sweating from the effort it took to write. If you focus on the wall, you can see the calligraphy that she wrote before she went blind.

I guess I'm trying to hold onto as much of her as I can, while I still can. Part of the reason why I am so obsessed with improving my Chinese is because I want to finally tell her what's in my heart.

1 comment:

Meggy_FFW said...

This post is beautiful. & makes me teary-eyed. Thank you for sharing about your grandma.